The Results Podcast with Michael Altshuler
Episode 001: Ivan Misner – The Godfather of Networking

Speaker 1:                    00:02               Welcome to the results podcast with Michael Alshuler, where results or the name of the game, and we’re arming you to win.

Michael:                       00:17               Hello. Welcome to the results podcast. I’m your host Michael Altshuler, and since this is our first episode of the podcast, let me start out by telling you a little bit about myself and my goals with this podcast moving forward and just overall what you can expect to get out of this show. Like I said, my name is Michael Altshuler. I’m a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, sales trainer and peak performance coach. I’ve been in business more than 30 years, made millions, lost millions, and now I want to pass that experience onto you. Some of my businesses have been successful and obviously, some haven’t, but they’ve all been experiences that have shaped who I am, what I do, and most importantly, how I can help you. I’m starting this podcast because I believe people are misguided when it comes to success and how they get the results in their lives and businesses.

Michael:                       01:11               When I first started out, I thought the best question that needed to be asked was one of the most successful people in the world do differently and better than everyone else that got them to the top, and I asked that question for years until I discovered I was asking the wrong question. There’s actually a better question that I should’ve been asking and here’s what it is, not one of the top business people doing differently and better, but rather why are they doing it? What pushes them past their comfort zone to make the sacrifices and do the things that the rest of us are unwilling to do? But here’s what I know. If you’re listening to this, you know what to do. You’ve listened to podcasts before and how much have you really applied? You see, the great challenge is not in the knowing it’s in the doing.

Michael:                       02:05               Therefore, it’s about not successful strategies, but rather mindsets, behaviors, beliefs. They drive a person to apply those successful strategies. So that’s why I’m calling this podcast the results podcast. I’m not only going to pick the brains of people have actually gone out and gotten just extraordinary results for themselves and their businesses, but I’m going to be asking them about their mindset, their belief system, and how they became mentally tough enough to fight the obstacles that were presented to them that were in their past that they had to get over through, were around. They’ll come on the show and tell their story, the lessons they learned and how they made it to the top and you the listener can apply these lessons and see the same results for yourself. And that all starts today with our first guest, my good friend Ivan Meisner. I’ve been founded business networking international, Bni back in 1985 today.

Michael:                       03:13               Bni as the world’s largest business networking organization and its members have gone on to close. Get this $11 billion dollars in business. Today. We’re going to be talking about Ivan’s story and how he started being ice from his bedroom and grew it into an organization that has over 8,000 chapters located in every populated continent in the world and also Ivan’s insights on why networking is so powerful and how most people are doing it completely wrong. One more thing before we get to the interview, this is our first week of podcasts are our launch week. Every day for the next five days, we’re going to be having guests who have gotten extraordinary results in their lives and businesses, so subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts, and if you enjoy the show, please leave us a review and share it with a friend. We want to grow this thing so that everyone can grow by listening to it. So with that being said, let’s get on with the show. Here is the results podcast, episode one with Ivan Meisner. Well, this, like I said, this is our inaugural podcast and I couldn’t be happier to have you on the show and I want to thank you for spending some time with me and going over kind of the birth of BNI and how to evolve to be the largest networking organization in the world. So, uh, if you wouldn’t mind sharing a little with what was the inspiration, you know, how long ago did you start being high and what was your inspiration to start it?

Ivan:                             04:51               I started BNI in 1985. It’s a 33 years old. I’d like to tell you that I had this vision of an international organization, but the truth is I was looking for some referrals for my consulting practice and I put together some people I trusted, they trusted me a, we refer to each other. Someone came who couldn’t join because we take one person per profession and she asked if I would help her open up the second group because she could get a lot of business out of it. I actually told her, no, this isn’t what I do. And she said, well, come on. This is kind of consulting, you’re helping me build my business. So I said, all right, then we’ll do it. And we opened the second chapter and we had a bunch of people come to the second group and two couldn’t join and they asked me if I’d help them open up groups and I said, no, this isn’t what I do.

Ivan:                             05:39               And he talked me into it and the end of the year we had 20 groups and, and it was at that point that I sat down and realized I had struck a chord in the business community that I didn’t anticipate, uh, at that moment, but it struck me, uh, it was, uh, December of 85. It struck me that we don’t teach this in colleges and universities anywhere in the world and that, um, that we needed a system and a process and a platform for people to generate referrals. And that’s when I really sat down and created the business plan for Bni. Wow. Now have, we now have 8,000, 400 chapters in more than 70 countries all around the world.

Michael:                       06:22               That’s crazy. That’s crazy. When you started Ivan. No businesses without competition. Was there anyone in the networking business or had a networking organization like yours that was competition or you were Kinda the first one to the game and, and everyone’s following you since 30 some years ago.

Ivan:                             06:41               No, you know, there, there were other networking organizations out there and there were some that were only one person per profession. Um, there were none that were locally a franchise locally owned and operated. Our BNI is actually set up as a franchise, so our people own the program locally and one of the reasons that we did that, especially going international is that we really felt that the majority of the support and work should be done locally and should be a local business person owning it and operating it. And so that was one of the big differentiators that we brought to the table early on.

Michael:                       07:21               Wow, that’s, that’s something dealt along the way. No business without its challenges. Setbacks. Tell me this, this growth, obviously it’s an enormous growth with how large you are right now. What were some of the setbacks along the way and how did you overcome those?

Ivan:                             07:37               Well, you know, one of the big setbacks and when you’re dealing with, um, we have almost a quarter of a million members, um, you know, you have a close to a quarter of a million entrepreneurs. It’s like herding cats. Everybody, everybody thinks they can do it better and they all want to do it differently. And so it’s really always a challenge to keep everybody on the program and to not try and reinvent the wheel. It’s very easy in a program like ours or in any business that’s all about systems and processes to have what’s called feature creep where people start adding stuff into the program so that it no longer resembles what was created and what worked. And so one of our biggest challenges, in the beginningwas, was to create systems and then later to make sure that they, that they stay true to the program and if we don’t start adding a lot of stuff into it

Michael:                       08:38               and that, that must be a little challenging. Here you have these entrepreneurs, these business people who will, like you said, always have ideas of their own that they believe might work better. And you have a brand and the most important thing with big brands is consistency. They deliver a consistent customer. So to stay with that consistent system like Mcdonald’s as a system, you always know what you’re going to get at Mcdonald’s. How do you manage that process in a franchise type organization?

Ivan:                             09:09               Well, it’s in some ways actually becoming easier because technology flattens the communication hierarchy. So you know, I can now speak to people worldwide in a way that I couldn’t. Um, when I started the organization, a matter of fact, when I started BNI in 1985, the second largest line item within two or three years, the second largest line item in our budget was the phone bill salaries, number one, phone bill, number two. That’s crazy. It is crazy because now I couldn’t even tell you where the phone bill is in our budget. It’s buried in something, I don’t know where. But, but in 86, 87 with 800 number and everything being a long distance call, it was heavy, very expensive. And so now technology enables us to communicate in a way that we couldn’t before. And so I’m able to do facebook live, I’m able to do training programs, we have now what’s called Bni University, which is an online program exclusively for BNI members.

Ivan:                             10:11               Uh, and when you have that kind of program, you tended to see more consistency in the application of the process. And that’s really our objective is consistency on what works. You know, I think one of the things the business people do and they do wrong, are they try to do a thousand things six times. You want to be successful in business, do six times, not a thousand things six times. And so we want to try and give you. And it doesn’t have to be sexy, it could be five, it could be seven, but we want to give people that have that handful of things that they do over and over and over and over again to be successful. And that, to a large extent is what BNI is all about.

Michael:                       10:51               Well, that’s interesting because we talked about your business and some of the breakthroughs and challenges and things like that. Let’s talk about, you know, I’m a sales guy and there’s gonna be a lot of sales guys listening to this and there’s going to be folks that are entrepreneurs that  business leaders, everyone’s interested in leads and everyone’s interested in new business. That’s what makes businesses go. So tell me about networking and obviously, I’m a believer. Tell me about networking and how that works in the terms of impacting a businesses success or salesperson success. What have you found over the years in terms of you’ve generated how much money, how many dollars in sales?

Ivan:                             11:36               In 2017. The organization past  11.1 million referrals and generated 13 points, I think it was 13.1 billion. That’s billion with a b 13.1 billion worth of business for our members

Michael:                       11:54               is that is that is just nuts and, and the, the 1:13 point that. So, so that’s obviously and you have givers gain. That’s Kinda your, your motto, your mantra.

Ivan:                             12:05               That is our principal. The core value is givers gain. And if you want to get business, you have to. You have to be willing to help other people get business

Michael:                       12:11               and  that seems to have worked famously well.

Ivan:                             12:14               Yeah. No. So I think the key you’re, you’re asking, you know what’s, what’s so important about that? What’s the. One of the most important things about Narcan? I think the, one of the most important things is the networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It’s about cultivating relationships with other business professionals. So I was doing an event in London a few years ago and they were about 900 people in the audience and I am, it was an all-day event. It was an and I was the keynote speaker and I was speaking and I said, how many of you out in the audience, how many of you are here today hoping to, you know, just maybe possibly sell something. Michael. 900 people raised their hands. Everybody’s, yeah, I’d like. That was a great second question. How many of you here today hoping to, you know, maybe just possibly buy something? No one raised their hands. Not One single person. This is what I call the networking disconnect. People show up at networking events wanting to sell, but nobody’s there to buy and if that’s how you are going to use networking, you’re using it as a face to face cold calling opportunity and that is not the best use of networking. Well, that’s very interesting. Networking is about building relationships with people. It’s not about face to face. Cold calling.

Michael:                       13:30               Wow. That’s a really interesting way to look at it. I’ve never looked at it that way and you’re right, that’s you. You queried 900 people and no one was there to buy, but everyone was there to sell. That is a disconnect and that’s why people show up to networking events.

Ivan:                             13:45               They go home and he feels like they need to get a shower because they feel like I’ve been sliding that. Right. That’s so true. It’s so true. Everyone is selling. What do you buy? What are you buying? No one’s buying. That’s right. So people say to me is,

Ivan:                             13:59               then why are you there? So here’s the answer to why you go to networking events. You’re there, I believe, to work your way through what I call the VCP process. Visibility, credibility, profitability. First, you have to be visible in the community. People have to know who you are and what you do. Dan, you established credibility where people know who you are, they know what you’re doing, they know you’re good at it, and that my friend takes time, takes time to build credibility. Once you’ve built that credibility, then and only then can you move to profitability where people know who you are, they know what to do, they know you’re good at it, and they’re willing to give you referrals on an ongoing reciprocal basis, so you go to networking events to work your way through the VCP process. People you don’t know, you want to establish visibility. People that you do know but you don’t know well, that’s your opportunity to build little bit of a relationship, build some credibility, people that you know well that you meet there, that’s a time to reconnect with them and to continue to build that credibility for the ongoing referrals that you may be getting from them. Networking is about more about farming. It’s about building those relationships, using the VCP process.

Michael:                       15:10               Now, how is that and that makes total sense and like I said, I never looked at it the other way, but it’s so true that that every one of these networking events, because they’re really not structured, everyone is there really just to sell something to quickly develop a relationship and get someone to buy a product or service you’ve managed to with Bni really created a system like you said, in a process to bring everyone together to nurture and build those relationships where everyone is there to farm, if you will. And through those relationships eventually, help each other, gain more business through those relationships and through the services. And you’ve done that exceedingly well. What has changed since, let’s say in the last 10 years, what has changed in your business model and that is working better now than it did 10 years ago?

Ivan:                             16:05               So in 2010, I wrote an article for entrepreneur.com. You can find it. It’s still up there. Who was in December of 2010 where I talked about the future of networking. And, uh, all three of the things that I’ve said has come to fruition too, am I think critical. One is the integration of technology witha networking organizations. Uh, and the other is education on networking. So the integration of technology is, I think critical, and I’ve already talked about the fact that technology flattens the communication hierarchy. Uh, but how does that play out? Well, one of the things that we’ve done in BNI is we’ve created an online platform called BNI connect, which now links all quarter of a million members worldwide through an online platform that is a walled garden. You have to be in BNI member to play in the garden. And if you leave BNI, you’re thrown out of the garden.

Ivan:                             17:06               You can’t, you can’t connect with the other members. So here it’s, imagines LinkedIn, but you what? You’re dealing with people that all belief in the same philosophy and you can and, and there, they’re trustworthy because they’re screened locally. And if they’re not doing a good job, they’re removed from a local chapter. And so you can do business with people all around the world. You can refer people all around the world and then the second piece of that’s education and as I mentioned, we’re doing a lot of online education because we still, we still don’t teach this in colleges and universities anywhere in the world, so those two things that I predicted back in 2010, I see them coming to fruition a broadly today and  I that that will continue.

Michael:                       17:50               That’s great. Did you, along the way, you know, we’ve all been influenced by either people or books or a seminar. Was there anything in particular, Ivan, that along the way really influenced and shaped you as a person and your business as it is today?

Ivan:                             18:06               Well, early on, yes. The short answer is absolutely, and there are certainly several books and several people that I am worked with that I’ve gained a lot from early on. It would be the  myth by Michael Gerber, the entrepreneurial myth. It’s called the e myth and I’m in anyone that’s thinking about starting a business should read the email. It’s a very, very good book and I’ve since as matter fact, I was doing a radio show once and I mentioned that it really impacted my business in a guess. We picked up the phone and gave me

Michael:                       18:38               call Michael Gerber’s. Wow. That’s. I’ve spoken to Michael before and I hear a lot from folks that I speak to that, that is one of the top 10 books that influence. Yes. And Michael is a character. He’s the wonderful guy, really liked it.

Ivan:                             18:52               And uh, and so that was one book I would say, uh, later in my career. I’m one of the books that have really helped me in dealing with challenges, people challenges is a book called crucial conversations. Yep. I know that as well. And that’s a really powerful book. If you’re dealing with challenges in your business or problem people in your business, two books I highly recommend.

Michael:                       19:17               Awesome. And how about any individuals either growing up or once you were starting your business that kind of mentored you or you looked up to that made an impact in your life and in your business?

Ivan:                             19:29               Well, I think certainly in the last 10 years, uh, I’ve really developed a friendship with Jack Canfield and Jack’s material is second to none, uh, his success principles and in a second edition, he was kind enough to include a contribution for me. Uh, so I’ve gotten to know Jack, Jack, Jack’s Jack’s an amazing guy. Um, his ego does not enter the room before him, uh, and, and somebody as successful as him, it’s pretty, it’s pretty easy for your ego to enter the room before you do. So. I would say Jack, along with Michael Gerber, and I’m probably a handful of other people as well.

Michael:                       20:07               Now, many people don’t know Jack before success principles that he was the coauthor with Mark Victor Hansen of the number one book series chicken soup for the soul. Yeah. He sold three quarters of a billion with a, b, three quarters of a billion copies of that book. You know, the story I’ve been, it’s a great story of how many times they were turned down by all the publishers. Oh yeah. Dozens and dozens and dozens. And, and it was a small publishing house that took on the book. Yeah. Do you know? It’s where I’m in Boca Raton, Florida, and that’s where the publishing house was in Boca Raton, Florida, right here where I live, which is great because I know Jack and I know mark and it’s amazing. I mean amazing. I think it was 157 rejections. And if they had stopped at 156, they would be nowhere. And it’s the experts Ivan telling them that it anthologies will never sell, never sell. And they failed to they their heart and their dream and their vision. And eventually as a result of that and the perseverance and resilience, they ended up with a well found success

Ivan:                             21:12               and they really have. And it’s just, just an unbelievable success. I, I’m, I have a, I have a mini version of that myself. My first book, I’ve done 22 now and the latest one is a second edition of networking, like a pro, which just came out. But my first major book, uh, I did, uh, I, I submitted it to 42 publishers and I just came across, I had a hand, this is back in 89, [inaudible] 93. I did this and I had a handwritten spreadsheet of all the publishers that I submitted it to and then a notation as to why they rejected it and really use it. Okay. I ran across it just about two years ago and I published it in my blog. For those of you listening, if you’re interested in my blog, it’s Ivan Meisner, that calm and I published it on my blog, have a picture of all 42 rejections on the spreadsheet. The 43rd person said, yes, it has now sold a, probably about a quarter of a million copies and has been translated into 10 languages. Yet, same story. If I, if I had given up on the 42nd, I wouldn’t have had that.

Michael:                       22:21               That is amazing. And that brings up, and that’s a great story and you got to ask the question. That begs to question. There are so many people that are fighting for someone to say yes to a dream, yes to a vision and it’s we know it’s all about perseverance and resilience. Easier said than done when you have experts telling you that this won’t sell, this won’t work, we don’t want it, and you take that as a personal insult and you take it as your reality or you could take it like that. Tell me if you remember, what were some of the rejection comments? Because I know that’s going to add fuel to the fire in terms of your belief system like this will never sell. No one wants this. What were some of the comments that you heard and my favorite one and what drove you to not make that your reality? To continue to persevere?

Ivan:                             23:10               Yeah. Here’s my favorite one here. And a lot of good networking is a fad. Where do you? Networking isn’t bad that so many people and uh, you know, they, they, I knew that that was wrong. I knew that wasn’t true. I knew that networking was something that people just didn’t understand back in the late eighties and early nineties because we didn’t teach it. I wrote the first doctoral dissertation on networking. I published probably the very first book. I’ve never been able to find a book prior to 1989, which was when I did a little self-published book. And then 94 was my big book. Um, I don’t, I was never able to find any books before though. So I, I knew that they, that the topic was a hot topic for business people. But, but the publishers didn’t. And so I knew they were wrong and I am like a dog with a bone basically.

Michael:                       24:10               I say, look, you know, I may not be the smartest man in a room. I may not be the most talented man in a room, but I’m almost always the most persistent man in a room. And if you really believe in something and the people close to you are telling you, yeah, you’ve got something there. I mean, you know, sometimes people will chase a false dream, but if you really believe in it and people close to you, believe in it, then you need to be a dog with a bone and keep going at it until you can achieve the success you want. And that’s what I’ve done with both BNI and my books.

Michael:                       24:42               I love that analogy. I did read them, I forget whether it was a blog or video, but I saw the title of the dog with the bone and I said that’s really interesting. And that’s exactly. Do you have to be tenacious, right? Absolutely tenacious.

Ivan:                             24:42               Yeah. Yeah.

Michael:                       24:56               That’s great. And so you hear that over and over again. And how do you not make that your reality? How do you not make that like, well these are experts some, you know, it’s a myth and may no one did it before. You’re really the father of networking. So when you’re the innovator. So, so many people listening to this, I have ideas and yeah, they, they want to follow up, follow through and pursuing these ideas, but yet they have people telling them the same thing. You were told that it’s a myth or it’ll never work or, and we know time and time again that that’s been Buick people do things that people have said for years that will never work. And then they ended up working on being huge successes. So how did you, was it, did you have conditioning? How did you get that mental condition, that mental toughness to be so persistent?

Ivan:                             25:51               Yeah, that’s a that’s a great question. And I answered and I think I’d like to quote a good friend of mine, Mark Goldstein and Dr. Goldstein a great guy. Uh, and, and he, he in some of his writing has said that we have a lot less control over winning or losing at something then we do overtrain or quitting at something. He says if you always try, you can eventually, win, if you always quit, you can never win. And I think that really is a good synopsis of my approach to doing things that I’m really, I really believe are important and can be successful is I just keep trying and trying and trying and trying. And I think people just give up too early. And again, there are exciting, you know, there are times when you’re just crazy, a crazy dream and everybody’s telling you doesn’t work. I think you need to get some advice from people you really trust. Um, you know, I’ve seen people try and do something that was, was in fact really crazy to do and they keep trying and trying and trying. But uh, you know, if you’ve got good mentors around you and they’re telling you, now you’ve got something there, then you kind of pursue it like a dog with a bone.

Michael:                       27:12               Yeah, that’s, that’s great. And you know, networking since then, obviously, the, uh, the results that you’ve achieved are just legendary.

Ivan:                             27:20               And what I haven’t heard anyone say it’s a fad. No long thing, nothing like, uh, results that prove people wrong.

Michael:                       27:20               Right?

Ivan:                             27:28               So what supports at 33 years and you know, if it was if it went out of fashion, it’s certainly going to come back in fashion.

Michael:                       27:36               The one thing that we know for sure Ivan is people are always looking for new ways to get customers and new ways to develop relationships that will lead to customers and certainly there’s not one thing, but networking has proven to be a very effective tool, proper networking, a very effective tool at generating a new relationships and new business.

Ivan:                             27:57               Yeah. And worldwide. I mean if you look at the BNI growth, our growth chart is an amazing thing to look at. It’s, it’s, it’s like a  curve, which, you know, it starts off low and then just does a spike. And we have had 33 years of consecutive growth. Not One year has been down, not one. How many companies in the world can, can say they have had 33 years of consecutive growth. I think that tells you something about, um, the value of networking. And what’s crazy to me is that we still, we still don’t teach this in colleges and universities anywhere in the world. I did a survey in one of my books, the book, and the book was called business networking insects. Now what you think about the difference between the men and women and only. No. Okay. And we surveyed 12,000 people and one of the questions we asked was, has networking played a role in their success? 90 one point four percent of the respondents said, yes, that came, played a role in their success. Now 90 one point four percent, when have you ever seen 91 percent of any group of people that agree to anything ever? They all agreed that networking has played a role in their success. Yet we still don’t teach this in college.

Michael:                       29:14               Why do you think that is? I mean, listen, they don’t teach a lot of things in college. I feel the same way as you. I’ve. And I’m just amazed that they don’t teach life skills. They don’t teach mindset. I know Carol Dweck, Dweck from a professor of psychology at Stanford University who has a great book mindset. How do, how do they not teach this in universities, how to cope with adversity, how to, how to not succeed. They teach almost the strategies but not how to succeed at the strategies.

Ivan:                             29:43               Yeah, it’s easy. I can’t speak to necessarily all about the mindset and the other topics, but networking. I get completely and here’s why. I taught at a State University in California for 16 years as anadjunct adjunct faculty. Then I was on the board of trustees for a private university for eight years and so I’ve seen it from both ends of the spectrum as a part-time adjunct faculty and as a member of the board of trustees who the president of the university reports to see it from both ends. Okay, so here’s the answer to your question and I hope you don’t have too many full-time tenured professors listening to your show because they’re not gonna like my answer the curriculum for virtually all universities are completely controlled by the full-time tenured professors. They are the ones that control the curriculum, so the answer to your question is that most full-time tenured professors in business have never had a real job in their life. They’ve never run a business yet. They are teaching people how to run a business and that my friend is the reason why we don’t teach networking or sales. Heaven forbids that you should get your hands dirty and make a sale a versus.

Michael:                       30:57               Yeah. In fact, one of the distinctions I told you this is you’re the first guest on our podcast and one of the distinctions between this podcast and others is I believe incongruency. I’m not going to have anyone on the show that hasn’t had success and failure and can’t, wasn’t in the trenches and can tell others this is the path. It’s very difficult to say, this is how you do it. Having never done it before and you know, I know what it’s like. I’ve made millions and I’ve lost millions. I know that journey and that’s the entrepreneurial journey. You know what it’s like to get in there and grind every single day and get turned down numerous times on a book and and be persistent, resilient and how you felt so when when you’re doing, when you’re rejected all the time and you fight back, you can speak with authority, but like you said, with professors, sadly we don’t say this to criticize them, but it’s very difficult to learn from someone who’s never been in the battlefield and understand it’s truly what it’s like

Ivan:                             32:02               and yes, and there are things that they can certainly teach. I had some wonderful professors. Ironically, most of them were my adjunct faculty who-who only did it part time and they. They had a career and then taught part-time, but I had good professors, even full-time tenured professors, but if you’re. But the missing piece of the puzzle for the full time professors is that they haven’t run the companies. They haven’t run businesses for the most part. Therefore they have a weak areas, areas, blind spots in their ability to teach and since they control the curriculum, they just don’t teach. They don’t create a curriculum for sales techniques for networking. Um, you know, they’ll, they’ll teach you, they’ll teach stuff like social media because you know that everybody can do that, you know, they can get on facebook and learn social media plus you don’t have to get your hands dirty and make a sale on social media. Think about it. What do they teach? They teach multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns. How many kids leave college and run a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign? Know they’ll do the social media, but uh, but they won’t teach networking. They won’t teach sales. It doesn’t surprise me at all. I don’t see it changing anytime soon, either.

Michael:                       33:16               Well, you know what, that provides an opportunity for those. Who Do you know, in my own business, I’m a, besides the keynote speaker, sales coach, and the peak performance coach, and we do training. So what college doesn’t do, fortunately, it creates opportunities for others to step in and help people where colleges have missed the boat and you do the same and have done the same for networking, which is, which is awesome. Now there’s a question that I always fought with when I had my previous business and it’s always been a challenge. In fact, I gained a business but lost a marriage as a result of not being able to balance both. Now, from what I understand, you’re married and have kids.

Ivan:                             33:54               I’m married 29 years this month.

Michael:                       33:56               Congratulations. That’s amazing. Now you know, it’s really important to me. I’ve been in. I think it’s an important lesson for all entrepreneurs to learn this, that what we. And this is kind of the lesson that I learned along the way that what you pay attention to flourishes and what you ignore parishes. So tell me as you grew this business and you grow it to a, a monster size, and I’m sure it took time. How did you balance and how did you invest the time in your marriage and with your children? And tell me how that all worked. How did you make that work?

Ivan:                             34:29               So that’s a fantastic question and I have the answer. I have them. I can tell you the secret to balance well dead. This is this what people want to hear.

Michael:                       34:29               Tell us.

Ivan:                             34:37               All right. You Ready?

Michael:                       34:37               Yes.

Ivan:                             34:40               Forget about balance. It’s impossible. Okay. But it’s not all bad news. Okay. When people, you know, especially now that I have a lot of gray hair, people asked me how did you balance it all? And I’ll. And I’ll say, I’ll get that answer and you see the people in the front row, they’re always, Oh God, I was hoping there would be something where there is good news. You may not be able to have balance, but I believe that you can create a life, a business with harmony and it’s not just semantics, it is a whole different mindset. So harmony assumes that your entire life is like lady justice where there are these scales and you balance your personal life with your business life, with your spiritual life, with your physical life. And uh, you know, your, your, your, your health and man, if you’re an life’s just not that simple.

Ivan:                             35:40               And so my life was an be less so now, but it certainly wouldn’t be. And I was really growing before I brought in people to help manage the company was way out of balance. But I really strove to have a life of harmony. And so here’s a few simple techniques to help people create a life of harmony. And don’t worry about balance because you’re not going to have it. So here are a few techniques. One is so simple, three words, simple sounding, anyway, be here now, wherever you are, be there. So if you’re at work, don’t be beating yourself up for not spending time with your spouse or with your kids last night. If you’re at home, don’t be thinking about that project that has to be done at work, wherever you are. Be fully present now. No one’s perfect at this. I wasn’t, but I got to be pretty good at it to be fully present. I remember when my son, he’s 20, he’s about to turn 25 when he was 17, we were sitting on the, on, uh, on our chairs in front of giant big screen TV and we’re playing halo and he’s kicking my butt.

Ivan:                             36:54               And I said to him, I said, buddy, um, was I around enough for you? And he looked at me, Michael, you looked at me like I was crazy. And he said what he said was around enough, he said, you’re right all the time. So you know, I travel a lot. I mean, at that time I was traveling almost every other week. I was gone for three, four days every other week. And I said, you know, I travel a lot. He said, yeah, yeah. But like, when you’re here, you’re like, totally here. Can we get back to the game now? Like yeah, absolutely.

Michael:                       37:22               Wow, that’s great. That’s great. That’s great advice. And it’s so easy for entrepreneurs when they’re at home to be thinking about business and whether a business thinking about business, but you’re right to be totally present in the moment. It’s quality of that time that you spend.

Ivan:                             37:41               It is. Can we give you a couple more?

Michael:                       37:42               Yeah, please do.

Ivan:                             37:44               So um, practice letting go and holding on. Practice letting goes and holding on. You have to learn what to let go. Somebody else’s great idea could be your distraction. So you have to ask yourself, is this thing that somebody wants me to go on the mission for me, for my life, for my business? Or is it really a distraction? In which case you need to learn how to say no in a, in a caring way, and you have to learn how to let go of things that just aren’t yours. And I find one of the best ways to say no to somebody is to say one of two things. Either one, if I, if I did this, I let you down because it’s, I’m, I’m overwhelmed with stuff right now or this isn’t my focus. I let you down or to say this is not my mission in business.

Ivan:                             38:47               Let me refer you to someone who I think would be a better fit. And so you have to learn how to let go and then you have to hold onto those things that are important to you. If it’s important to you, that’s where you’re the dog, like a bone, a dog with a bone. Here’s, here’s, um, two more sure. Create margins in your life. So I traveled a lot. One of the things I always did when I traveled as I, especially if I went internationally, I’d go, I do all my business trips and then I would bring up my family and we would, we would create this margin, so I’d worked for a week or two internationally and then I bring the kids in and I bring my wife in and we’d spend an entire week on vacation. No business didn’t meet with anybody, but those margins gave me an opportunity to integrate both my, my desire to achieve something with my business and my desire to have family time. She got a build margin into your life to do the things that are important to you. It’s one of the reasons why I think I’ve managed to stay married to an incredible woman for 29 years.

Michael:                       39:54               Well, that’s. That’s amazing. So the margins create that harmony, right?

Ivan:                             39:57               They do. They help to create the harmony. Here’s, here’s one more that I think is really important and this helps you with a mindset and that is that I think you have to work in your flame and not in your way. When an entrepreneur is in their flame, they’re on fire, they’re excited, they love what you’re doing. You can see it in the way they behave, you can hear it in their voice when they’re working in their wax, it just takes all their energy away. You can see it in how they behave, you can hear it in their voice and the more you can find ways to work in your flame and not your wax, the more enjoyable you’re going to be to be around for your family, for your office, and so learn what areas are your flame in business and do your best to work towards those.

Michael:                       40:47               So that brings up a great point. What’s the? With this whole journey that you’ve been on, what have you? What are the top three things that you? Just. The Great Memories, the great experiences, the top three things that if you told someone, this is what, this is all meant to me, what would they be? Ivan?

Ivan:                             41:05               Oh yeah. I know and we have to have enough time for those. I’ll do my best. I think one would be how many people coming up to me as I travel around the world and telling me that I’m BNI has saved their business or the date they get this huge percentage of their business, 50, 60, 7,100 percent of their business through referrals from BNI that it’s honestly, it’s, it’s humbling to me to hear so many people talk about how BNI has helped him in business. But here’s one that surprised me. So many people talk to me about how BNI has helped them in, in, in other ways. For example, so many people have said, um, I’m a better speaker now because of Bni. I have to stand up every week and I couldn’t introduce myself when I first started. Now I can stand up and speak extemporaneously about my business and my comfort level is just so much greater. Uh, and, and to me that, that, that has just blown me away. How it’s, I help people and I, and I think, I think the third thing is to see how people, you know, 71 countries we’re in. I think one of the things that’s been amazing is that I’ve learned that different people, different places, different races, different religions. We all speak the language of referrals. We all want to do business with people we know and trust, and to see this platform work in all these different cultures has been another incredibly humbling thing to see

Michael:                       42:38               what’s the great three, great, a great less, not lessons, but three great things to remember or celebrate that of what you build. It’s not just a business, not just a money machine is something that really impacts people’s lives all over the world, which is, which is great. What’s the funniest thing? The funniest experience that just really was crazy. Could go down and you can see it on one of the late night talk shows. Anything come to mind? I’m not sure I could tell you I’m an error, an error. Some of this stuff. Probably probably one would be, um,

Ivan:                             43:22               I can’t believe I’m telling you. The signer. One would be a chapter that, uh, were there was, there was a person that wanted to get back in at the chapter because they had a disagreement in the chapter and so they had, they had a particular meeting catered and it was catered by, um, a Butler’s in the buff and uh, and they had aprons on and they came in, but they were buck naked, came in, serve the food, and of course when they turned around it was,

Michael:                       43:54               oh my gosh. Yeah, yeah. That was probably the most incredibly inappropriate yet funny thing I’ve ever seen. Right. I would say that when you’re dealing with as many chapters in as many over 225,000 members if you’re going to have a lot of things that are unique and that. And that was one that I could at least tell on air. Yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s amazing. So as you move forward, kind of finishing up now, as you move forward, what’s on the horizon for you? I know you do some philanthropic philanthropic work and what? Tell me a little bit about what’s in the future for you, Ivan.

Ivan:                             44:36               Well, I have always believed that, uh, it’s important to put back into the communities from which you draw. So, you know, thethe Meisner, a family foundation, and the BNI foundation had done a lot of work. Uh, we’ve, we’ve raised millions of dollars for, for charity, and we’re continuing to do that. I, I believe that we as individuals may not be able to make a world of difference, but we can make a difference in the world. Beautiful. And you do that by, you know, just eat that elephant one bite at a time. You do what you can as an individual. Um, so the charitable work, I’m now my role at the company is to be the spokesperson for Bni and um, uh, you know, the Colonel Sanders of Bni, I do have a new book coming out that should be out by the end of the year that I’m really excited about. I think, uh, I think it, it might just be my best selling book ever.

Ivan:                             45:24               And I’m really excited about the book that’s coming out. I to do with networking. The title is who’s in your room and it’s all about the people in your life. So the book should be out by the end of the year. Um, imagine that you live your entire life in one room.

Michael:                       45:24               Okay?

Ivan:                             45:39               And that one room has one door.

Michael:                       45:39               Okay.

Ivan:                             45:42               And that one door is an entry only door so that when people come into your life, they’re there forever. You could never get them out. Now, luckily this is a metaphor, but if it were true, and I would argue with you that there are a lot of elements of truth to it. If it were true, would you be more selective, Michael, about who you let into your life?

Michael:                       46:06               I probably would be. Yes.

Ivan:                             46:07               Yeah. Everybody I’ve ever talked to has said, oh yeah, absolutely. I would. Yeah.

Ivan:                             46:12               Um, and so our question is then why aren’t we, why aren’t we selective about the people that we let into our room or into our life? And so the majority of the book is talking about how do you screen people to come into your life that is healthy, that fit your values. Have you ever even thought about your values, what are they? And here are some ideas on thinking about what your values are and how do you screen those people and then what do you do with people that are in your room or in your life that you should have never let in. And so that’s what the book is all about and I think it’s a really powerful book. It’s a really a self-help book, which I’ve never done before.

Michael:                       46:46               Yeah, I think that’s great and I’m a huge proponent of that. When I coach clients, the first thing I talk about is do you have a core set of values? I have five. And I said, what are your values for? Get it said, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. And that ties exactly into who you let in your room. If they don’t charge your battery, if there are battery drainers and battery chargers, and if you’re not careful, you’ll invite people into your life that will influence you. And I believe, and obviously, you’re writing the book, Ivan, that there’s probably no greater force, uh, that will affect someone’s life as to who they surround themselves with.

Ivan:                             47:22               No question about it. And many, many people I know Jack often says that you become the six people you hang out the most with. And I think that’s very, very true. The challenge is that you know, people that you’ve led into her life in the past still influence you, um, because they may be out of your life, but they’re still in your head,

Michael:                       47:39               right?

Ivan:                             47:40               And they never leave your head and you make decisions based on experiences that you had in the past.

Michael:                       47:40               Yes.

Ivan:                             47:47               And so, um, it’s, it’s an important concept and it’s way different than anything I’ve done. So if you, if you’re coaching on values when the book comes out, we should connect and I’d be happy to talk more about it.

Michael:                       47:57               Yeah, I would love that. In fact, one of the things that I’ve heard of do a little talking about this also is that we live life in the windshield of a car, not the rearview mirror, and the rearview mirror is little to remind us of the mistakes we’ve made so we don’t repeat them, but the windshield is large, reminding us of the large and grand future that lies ahead. I like that. So keep your eyes, you know, just metaphorically speaking, we should always keep our eyes ahead, but every once in awhile if something comes up, peeking the rearview mirror so you don’t make that same mistake again, that shouldn’t occupy your mind, but it should be just a small reminder if needed to go in a different direction if you need to go in a different direction.

Ivan:                             48:40               Yeah, it’s a great way of putting it.

Michael:                       48:43               Yeah. So a great book. And tell us the name of the book,

Ivan:                             48:44               the book, the book that I just wrote is networking like a pro second edition, the book that will be coming out, I hope by the end of the year who’s in your room and your room.

Michael:                       48:54               So everyone listening, if Ivan miser wrote it, you should get it because it’s going to be a life changer. He certainly lived the talk and talk to live. He’s, he’s a man who, who certainly managed to live in harmony both in his life and his business and his charitable foundation. And Ivan, you are my first podcast guest and we, I know you and I go way back and I want to thank you. It’s been a real privilege and a pleasure to have you on and have you share your story personally and also your business story with everyone. It’s uh, it’s been amazing.

Ivan:                             49:33               We do go way back and I, I appreciate the, I, I’m honored to be your first guest on your podcast. For anyone that’s interested in my content, go to Ivan Meisner.com, my blog, and of course BNI.com. If you’re interested in going to visit

Michael:                       49:48               and I would recommend everyone do that. Thank you. I’ve got less brother.

 

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